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Armour students start recycling program

Fourth- and seventh-grade students in Armour have teamed up to create a recycling program in town. In all, 25 students have worked together. Pictured above, eight students visit with Adviser Tammy Sparks about the project. Clockwise from top are Sparks, Brittney Sparks, Dylan VanDerWerff, Trevor Lau, Riley Hrdlicka, Braden Hawley (hidden), Ally Bertram, Haley Dufek, Hunter Stoltenburg (hidden) and Corbin Fuoss. (Anna Jauhola/Republic)


The Daily Republic

ARMOUR -- Fourth- and seventh-grade students in Armour want to start a recycling revolution.

Through an Innovations Lab project, the students are beginning a recycling program for the community.

"If we start recycling, I hope it inspires other communities," said Trevor Lau, a seventh-grader.

The students and their teachers have been working on the project since the start of the year. Tammy Sparks teaches grades five through eight social studies. She, Rose Weaver, a fourth-grade teacher, and Marian Biederstedt, the after-school coordinator, were ecstatic about the students choosing recycling as a community project.

"As a staff, we came up with a schoolwide project," Sparks said. "So we asked all the students, 'How can we make Armour a self-sustaining community?' "

The fourth- and seventh-graders brainstormed their own ideas in class and then asked their parents the same question. They compiled the lists, narrowed the choices and voted on recycling, Sparks said.

The students began the project by learning about recycling from a state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources expert. Then, they researched the information themselves and presented the information in class.

"We wanted to partner with someone to help us with the recycling in town," Sparks said.

So the students found Van Bros. Inc. in nearby Corsica, which is a garbage and recycling company. The kids visited the facility to learn more about the recycling process.

The company received a DENR grant to place trailers in area communities. The trailers will contain six Gaylord recycling boxes for community drop-offs -- two for paper, two for plastic and two for cardboard.

The company chose Armour and has agreed to let the students be the middleman, Sparks said.

Most recently, the students presented the community recycling idea to the Armour City Council. The council agreed to place the trailer behind the city finance office, to help keep the path clear and ensure the trailer does not overflow. While the city will help out, the students will also be responsible to keep the area clean and alert Van Bros. if the trailer is full, Sparks said.

"The only downside may be that people have to sort their own recycling," Sparks said. Van Bros. will accept all paper for recycling except glossy paper, and will accept all plastic numbered 1 through 7 on the bottom. All cardboard is accepted.

Until the trailer arrives, the fourth- and seventh-graders are tasked with getting students to recycle in every classroom. Six groups of intermixed fourth- and seventh-graders presented recycling facts to several classrooms Thursday.

They gave the example, "So much office paper is thrown away each year in the U.S. to make a 12-foot wall from the East Coast to the West Coast." The trailer is set to arrive the first week of January, Sparks said.

"Then our job when the trailer gets here is to promote and advertise it," she said. Again, the students must research and brainstorm ways to promote the recycling program throughout town.

The students' Christmas break will be spent recycling at home and encouraging their families to do the same. They have some big hopes for the program, and for their own futures.

"When we grow up and have our own kids, then we'll be able to teach them to recycle," said Riley Hrdlicka, a seventh-grader.